“Movement has healed me.” Tackling the NYC Marathon with Type 1 Diabetes


Editor’s Note: Joanna is a member of the Beyond Type Run 2022 team—a team of nearly 50 people living with type 1 diabetes who ran the 2022 NYC Marathon on November 6. They’re on a mission to raise awareness and funds for type 1 diabetes, with fundraising open through the end of 2022. Congratulate Joanna by making a gift on her fundraising page!

Imagine dedicating your career to health and wellness and finishing your sixth half marathon with a PR (personal record), feeling unstoppable. That was me in November 2021.

Then everything changed.

The list of warning signs was long but I didn’t think anything of it because I was so active. I was teaching indoor cycling three to four times per week and training for a half marathon. What seemed normal at the time was just the beginning of my body shutting down.

Constantly being thirsty, tired, losing weight, fatigued, anxious and experiencing changes in mood. But I was working out a lot. I thought my symptoms made sense.

I was scheduled for a routine doctor visit in January 2022. She asked me if I had any concerns. I told her my symptoms and she thought it would be a good idea to get some blood work done.

They called me on a Sunday afternoon.

“I need you to come in, you have diabetes.”

When you dedicate your career to helping others and practicing a healthy lifestyle you never think you will hear those words. Diabetes?!

My A1c was off the chart. My doctor didn’t know how I wasn’t in the ER and only one thing came to mind. Movement saved my life. Being so active at that point was a true miracle. It kept my body out of crisis mode and kept me going with enough time to catch the rest of the warning signs. 

From that moment, I wondered what would be next. The highs, the lows, the work. I questioned if I would be able to teach anymore or even go on a run.

I took a few weeks off but then I got back on the bike and taught my first class. Feeling the movement that kept me here meant more than ever. I stumbled across a post one day from Beyond Type 1 about their NYC Marathon Team. I read the incredible stories of others fighting the same fight and was inspired by each of their stories. These people were just like me and many lived with type 1 for so much longer.

I thought to myself “wow wouldn’t that be amazing to run a whole marathon with type 1.”

And so now I am. 

This journey has changed my entire outlook on being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

At first, I was angry, sad and it felt unfair. But each run I am reminded of how strong my body is. It brought me here and kept me strong enough to get through pre-diagnosis.

Movement can heal your mind, your energy and your perspective. I now find more gratitude and grace in each step I take. Movement has healed me.

This January will be one year of living with type 1 and for me, training for the NYC Marathon has helped me overcome my diagnosis.

I am honored to run alongside 49 others living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and to cross the finish line for the millions of others fighting.

WRITTEN BY Joanna Mattaliano, POSTED 09/30/22, UPDATED 05/18/23

Joanna Mattaliano lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she is an indoor cycle instructor and social media manager. In addition to turning back toward movement soon after her type 1 diabetes diagnosis, she also started her own small business just a few months later. She was diagnosed right after her 29th birthday in January 2022.